Over this past weekend my daughter, Austen, made a decision to delay her entry into her career. After 4 years at USC Thornton School of Music and after another year+ for her Masters degree in Music Education, she turned down several teaching offers. Instead, she will continue her role as co-song writer and keyboardist with an up-and-coming band (Jessica’s band); she will continue to maintain her personal blog; and she will join a gym, hoping to get into the best physical shape of her life. For her, the act of making that decision was anxiety provoking, but the subsequent feeling was one of liberation.
As I watched my daughter struggle with this decision, it occurred to me that today’s baby boomers and today’s young college graduates are not so different. We are just reverse images. One group is struggling to step onto the career conveyor belt and the other group is struggling to find a way to step off. In the course of a person’s work history, those are two crucial junctures. With further reflection it occurred to me that my daughter’s decision and the baby boomer’s decision require the same two qualities: a willingness to be adventuresome and a degree of courage.
For some of you, there is the belief that the key factor is your wealth. Well. I disagree. Sorry, but for me, the lack of finances is an obvious concern, but it should not be the primary determinant. For the rest of your life what do you really want? That is a far more important question. Do you want more of the ‘same ole’, boring days? Bland, safe, and unfulfilling? Or do you want a life with some surprises? Think of the movie Django Unchained. When his chains were broken apart, the adventure began. Danger, uncertainty, and possible death, yes. But there was also freedom, action, and a chance for a new life.
Are we baby boomers so different? I think not. Too often we play it safe. Too often we allow our personalities to become calcified. Too often we allow our lives to become stagnant. Too often we allow our later years to become unexciting – a never-changing shade of gray. It doesn’t have to be that way. With a dose of courage, life can shift in an instant. Yes, we all have to play the cards we have been dealt. But in any card game you can discard a couple of cards and gamble your fate with some new cards. Is it worth the gamble?
My own view? For my daughter, for the baby boomer, and for myself? Yes, it’s worth the risk. Why am I so convinced? Because you do not have to succeed to make the journey successful. You just have to enjoy the journey! I know. For many, that is a strange concept. Too many of us focus on the external results. But what about the internal results? What about how you feel during the journey? Isn’t that what really matters? Don’t you want to live feeling good about yourself? Good about your life? Come on, isn’t it time to play a few new cards? Isn’t it time to become unchained and liberated?